From Lord Avebury
September 19, 2008
Today I met Mrs Amina Janjua, wife of Masood Janjua, who disappeared on July 30, 2005, after he had set out on a journey from Rawalpindi to Peshawar. The facts have been given to FCO officials, when Mrs Janjua met them at the beginning of the month, and they kindly promised to make inquiries on Mrs Janjua’s behalf.
The fact is, however, that Mr Janjua is one of 575 cases known to his wife, who has founded an organisation Defence of Human Rights to pursue them, and Amnesty International, whose Campaigner for Pakistan and Afghanistan Ms Maya Pastakia accompanied her, say that the number is probably much higher (see Amnesty International Denying the Undeniable, July 2008).
Some of the missing people are said to have been detained as part of the ‘war on terror’, and some because they were political opponents of the military government. Mr Janjua and some others including children don’t fit into either of these categories.
At the Working Group on Pakistan’s UPR on June 4, 2008, the UK “asked about what steps Pakistan will take to investigate arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture perpetrated by security forces”. The Pakistani representative said they were about to accede to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, and this was one of the recommendations adopted. However, if they are genuine, they could begin by coming clean on the hundreds of persons already in custody, whose relatives still don’t know their fate after several years.
As you know, I have very little faith in the UPR process, and although the mantra of Amnesty International, like that of the FCO, is that its too early to make a judgement, I think that after 32 states have been examined, we can see the way the wind is blowing. Where the Working Group does make recommendations, they are in very general terms, often urging as in this case that the state sign up to relevant treaties, and ignoring the need to remedy existing endemic human rights violations. I hope that if not before, we can have a discussion on the process in the debate on the Queen’s Speech in November.
The Rt Hon the Lord Malloch-Brown KCMG,
Foreign & Commonwealth Office,
London SW1A 2AH